Plot heavy and character loaded, this unusual first novel relies on many ""weird coincidences [and] bizarre twists,"" but is no more satisfying for admitting its strangeness. Destiny Ortega (born Delia Bird) has the gift to ""see things as they are""--she's a psychic who works mostly by phone from her rotting house in the slums of Wallingford, N.J., a ""city of enchantment."" Built on a history of corruption and exploitation, Wallingford now seems to nurture an Afro-Caribbean cult, ""Santeria,"" Whose members include Delia's mother-in, law, another thunder-invoking mystic. For all her insight into the future, Delia lacks worldly sense. Ever since her husband Jaime was killed while robbing a 7-11, Delia has lived in poverty with her son Lazaro, a Street-savvy kid who's eventually lured into arson--a scheme hatched from on high by a developer trying to destroy evidence of his swindle. Nestor Bird, Delia's dad and a prominent local lawyer, stands to lose most from the scare, so he begins a cover-up, enlisting both his grandson--whom he has ignored since birth--and his feisty legal associate, an ambitious lesbian yuppie. Meanwhile, Lavinia Bird, estranged from her husband long ago, takes in a boarder, Will Appleyard, a ""dull, but decent"" fellow who's writing a dissertation on Wallingford's checkered history--a past that includes a family rivalry between the Birds and Appleyards. To complicate matters, there's Edgar Snow, the real estate con-artist who steals Nestor's money and his second wife, a blond bimbo who spends most of her time on her nails; there is also the skeptical Gareth Watts, a successful movie director whose pilgrimage to see Destiny--she predicted two accidents over the phone--leads him into her aura. He, not Will, rescues this slum goddess and her talented son, while Will hooks up with Cass, her promiscuous sister. More hocus-pocus than literary magic.